Monday Mornings with Madison

Essential Tools for Today’s Mobile Workers

Millions of professionals worldwide spend a huge part of their work life traveling.  Salespeople are constantly driving from place to place, meeting with clients or potential clients or visiting job sites.  Service professionals and consultants often go to their customers’ locations to provide support.  Couriers and logistics companies constantly have their employees on the road.   Even many dentists and doctors have multiple offices or hospitals to which they drive daily.   It is not unusual for busy execs to be ‘on the road’ half of their work week or more. Continue reading

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Remaining Relevant in 2017 and Beyond, Part 2

Many occupations have disappeared due to automation, advanced machinery and computers.  Manufacturing jobs have decreased in number and salary.  Clerical jobs have dwindled as technology has streamlined office processes.   Clean forms of energy have hurt mining and related industries.  Robotics, computer automation and engineering advances will surely put an end to even more jobs such as bon-bon dippers, check writers, finger cobblers, clock hand inspectors, and globe mounters.

Some fear that technology will eventually replace every job and make human labor obsolete.  But consider that technological advances have been pushing people out of job since long before the Industrial Revolution.  This is nothing new.  While technology killed some jobs, those same technological advances created other new jobs.  And while computers and robots can do a great many things, they are also many other things they simply cannot do… and will likely never be able to do. Continue reading

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Remaining Relevant in 2017 and Beyond, Part 1

The world’s most sophisticated computers can out-think most humans today.  They have more memory, greater instant access to information and don’t need anything except electricity (and maybe an Internet connection) to keep going 24 hours a day.  Even the average laptop is able to perform many tasks that once required human involvement.  And, as robotics are infused into more machinery and engineering, the work once done by humans to make things is also being increasingly replaced by computerized machines.  Robots don’t need sleep, hydration, nutrition or oxygen to breath.  Robots don’t take vacations, don’t go on maternity leave, don’t need coffee breaks (or coffee, for that matter), or want fringe benefits like increasingly expensive health insurance.  Robots don’t have bad days, sick kids or aging parents.  Computers and robots have a shorter life span, but can be depreciated and written off on taxes, along with other equipment.  In short, technological innovations are increasingly making some jobs obsolete. Continue reading

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The Down Side of an Instant Gratification Culture

We live in an increasingly Faster-is-Better world.  We want what we want… and we want it now.  Waiting has become a cardinal sin.  Waiting more than two seconds for a web page to load increases bounce rates.  Waiting for pedestrians to get out of a crosswalk makes drivers dangerously antsy.   Waiting on hold more than a minute for a company to provide service causes customers to hang up and go elsewhere.   Speed has become so important that businesses have sprung up focused on providing faster service.   Walmart, eBay and Amazon are all offering same-day delivery in many locations.   Uber’s business model is built on ensuring that a person who needs a ride can get one at a moment’s notice anywhere.  Drive-through windows have sprung up for everything from groceries to medicines.  Some furniture stores now also offer same-day delivery.  Even the world of entertainment has begun catering to the increasing demand for instant results.  Companies like Netflix are now offering an entire season’s worth of programs all at once to feed the desire to “binge-watch” without having to wait for the next installment.  This demand for “immediate” has seeped into every corner of life – both real and virtual. Continue reading

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Focus on Conclusions… Not Resolutions

As the end of the fiscal year draws near, businesses hurry to finish deals, take inventories, close out books, and develop plans for the future.  Grand goals are set to double sales, triple territorial reach or quadruple orders in the year ahead.   People also look ahead; setting goals and preparing resolutions on how to become more successful and happier.  Some make resolutions to quit smoking or lose weight.  Others set lofty objectives such as start a business, write a book or run a marathon.  The sound of the clock ticks louder and a feeling of urgency pushes everyone make big plans and think ahead. Continue reading

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The Business Benefits of Bilingual Employees

Language – written and spoken — is the primary tool people use to communicate.  While babies are not born speaking, they begin to acquire language skills relatively shortly after birth.  By about one year old, babies are babbling and saying some words, and by two years of age most toddlers are learning new words daily and starting to form sentences.  Based on the results of over 2 million people testing their vocabulary on, by age 9, the average American test-taker already has a vocabulary of 10,000 words and most American adult test-takers have vocabularies ranging from 20,000-35,000 words.  That is for Americans learning one language:  English. Continue reading

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Business Etiquette: Agreeing to Disagree

The political scene that unfolded in the U.S. in 2016 brought into the spotlight how deeply people disagreed on key issues.   Disagreements became confrontational, aggressive and uncivil.  Private discussions and social media posts spilled into open public forums, rallies and protests.  It was particularly divisive and distasteful. Continue reading

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Preparing an Annual Marketing Plan

It is a lot of work to prepare an annual Marketing Plan.  After all, a company’s Marketing Plan should itemize — in great detail — all of the company’s goals, the objectives to reach those goals and the strategies to operationalize each objective.  It is also supposed to clarify the target audience, provide a competitive analysis, set the budget and identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats on the horizon.  It should also focus on pricing and sales strategy.  That is a lot of information to think about, research and then crystalize into a document.  It takes a lot of time to think through the vision for what a company wants to accomplish in the year ahead.

It is so much work that many small and mid-sized companies simply do not prepare a formal, written Marketing Plan.  Often, a Marketing Director will write out some high level goals and itemize some new strategies that target those goals.  In reality, the typical Marketing Director has neither the time nor inclination to write an in-depth document that – in some cases – even the company’s leadership will not read.  Moreover, a lot of leaders don’t want to commit to a budget or plan, if one is proposed.  Instead, many small to mid-sized organizations want to take a more casual approach to marketing.   Any planning that is done is never done more than weeks or months in advance.   If so many businesses shrug off writing a Marketing Plan, why do business schools teach marketers how to prepare an Annual Marketing Plan and why do management experts harp on the need for an Annual Marketing Plan?  Is that approach – a 12-month plan — even valid anymore in such a rapidly-changing global marketplace? Continue reading

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There is So Much for which to be Thankful

At this time every year, Americans spend a day “giving thanks” for their many blessings.  Rightly so.  The New York Times recently published an editorial that said that “In many ways, there has never been a better time to be alive.”  The article acknowledged that, while there are certainly still many problems in the world, today “fewer among us are poor, fewer are hungry, fewer children are dying, and more men and women can read than ever before. In many countries, recognition of women’s and minority rights is now the norm. There is still much work to do, of course, but there is hope and there is progress.”

The article goes on to observe how people in struggling and violent parts of the world want to immigrate to richer, more peaceful nations such as the U.S.  That’s understandable.  Indeed, the U.S. has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world amongst capitalist countries.  The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the U.S. ranks 9th in the world.   And when the United Nations combined physical capital (machinery, buildings, infrastructure and so on), human capital (the population’s education and skills), and natural capital (including land, forests, fossil fuels and minerals), the U.S. ranked #1 as the richest nation on earth.

And yet, a Gallup poll this year showed that 71% of Americans were dissatisfied with the U.S. economy and 8 out of 10 felt the country was going in the wrong direction.  Those who live in the safest, most prosperous country on earth were feeling great uneasiness, bordering on hopelessness.  Why such anger and discontent in the world’s most affluent country?  What might account for the huge disconnect between America’s prosperity and the dissatisfaction most Americans feel?   Perhaps it’s a matter of gratitude? Continue reading

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Meeting Etiquette: Rules of the Road

Meetings cost organizations a lot of money.  Consider the hourly rate (wages plus benefits) of each person at the meeting.  Then add in the expense of bringing everyone together, if some of the participants are at different locations.  It can add up.   Yet, in all likelihood, most employees will attend dozens or hundreds of meetings throughout their careers.  And most employees loathe attending meetings.  That’s because meetings take up valuable time that a person could use to “get their work done.”  To add insult to injury, not only do meetings eat away at productivity, they often feel like a waste of time. That’s because so many meetings veer off topic, devolve into entire conversations that have no place in the meeting, have numerous interruptions, and/or drag on way past their scheduled time, resulting in the need for another meeting. Continue reading

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